Lent Devotional: Job 32-33

by Jonathan Haefs

Job 32-33 (click here)
So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. 3 He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. 4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger. (Job 32:1-5)

Finally… Job’s three “friends” give up. However, before we can rejoice that this seemingly endless debate has come to an end, a fourth “friend” enters the picture. Here comes Elihu. He may be the strangest character in the whole book.

Elihu comes out of nowhere. He has not been mentioned up to this point and, after his long speeches end, he will not be mentioned again. No one even acknowledges anything he has to say! No one affirms his words, but no one denies his words. Even when God finally speaks he will ignore this young man. Who is this and why is he even in the story?

I think Elihu is there for us. Don’t get me wrong, I believe he is a real person and is really a part of this story, but I think he is there for all the readers of the story. Like us, he has been sitting back and simply listening. Like us, he has grown weary with all this talk. Like us, he has a few things of his own he would like to say. Like us, he has been willing to listen because, surely, these other men were wiser than he.

Right about the time Elihu can’t stand to be silent anymore is also right about the time we want to start screaming at Job and his “friends.” We want to rebuke everybody and that is exactly what Elihu does… but it does nothing. Elihu’s voice is not the one that Job or his friends need… they need to hear from God. Our voice is not the one that Job or his friends need… they need to hear from God.

God can and does speak through his people, but all too often we want to jump into situations and speak our own wisdom. People don’t need our wisdom… they need a word from God. Elihu is the final person that proves all human wisdom falls short… all our wisdom falls short. The only one left to speak is the only one that Job (and us) needs to hear speak… God.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.